Almost five months have passed since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the russian federation into the territory of Ukraine. During this time, russia occupied about 13% of the Ukrainian territory, which, together with the areas seized in 2014/15, is about 20% of the territory of Ukraine (parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions). Along with the obvious humanitarian problems that the occupation created for the local population (lack of medicines, food and basic services), the information blockade of the captured regions also becomes a significant challenge. Here, the rf blocks the broadcasting Ukrainian television and radio, they broadcast russian television and block access to the Ukrainian segment of the Internet. At the same time, russia is trying to complicate access to information for residents of the remaining part of Ukraine: through bombing and rocket attacks at television towers and radio stations throughout our country, as well as through hacker attacks on news and official government Ukrainian websites.

In this coverage, OPORA will show how russia is trying to convince residents of the occupied territories that it is there forever.  As to the residents of territories free from occupiers, they are trying to send the message that soon they will also be "liberated from the Nazis".

Nationwide level

From the first days of the full-scale invasion, it became clear that the russian federation had developed several basic strategies to combat the dissemination of information to Ukrainian media and authorities.

The first of them was the shelling of television towers in various regions of Ukraine. Thus, during the period from February, 24 to July, 15, 2022, at least 15 air and missile strikes were recorded were recorded  on 12 TV towers in 10 regions of Ukraine.At the same time, 80% of all shelling fell on the first month of the full-scale war — from February, 27, to March, 24. The reason for choosing such goals is obvious: all official information first came mainly through the "United News" telethon, which was also paralleled on the radio. Accordingly, the occupying forces expected that the cessation of official broadcasts would disorient society and cause panic. However, due to the decentralization of telecommunication equipment, the rapid reorientation of government and media communication to social networks, as well as because Ukrainian citizens are not as dependent on television as russians, this did not happen.

As a second step, the russian authorities undertook to fight against Ukrainian news and official departmental websites. In particular, since February, 24, 2022, a number of Ukrainian media reported DDoS attacks and cyber attacks on their websites:

At the same time, it should be understood that the above list of cyberattacks on media resources is not exhaustive. For example, the website "RIvne by Night" alone, from February, 24 to April, 12, 2022, was attacked 249 times. The reason for the attacks is the same as for the bombing of television towers — an attempt to take away reliable sources of information from Ukrainian citizens. In addition, in January-February 2022, a few weeks before the full-scale invasion, russia cyber-attacked the official website  of Ukrainian authorities and critical infrastructure enterprises. However, again, due to the ramified Ukrainian media field, as well as because of the paralleling of official messages on social media and messengers, this idea could not be successfully implemented.

Occupied Territories

Although at the scale of all Ukraine, the attempts of the russian federation to stop Ukrainian broadcasting and deprive society of access to timely and reliable information were not very efficient, the same cannot be said about the occupied territories. Here, russia prevents local residents from consuming Ukrainian content in every possible way and imposes their own propaganda through television and radio, and online.

Television and Radio

The use of the captured media infrastructure directly in the occupied territories helps the russian federation to build an information blockade. Cumulatively, from March, 2014 to July, 2022, at least 131 media infrastructure facilities, such as TV towers, repeaters, or radio transmitters, were seized in all temporarily russia-controlled territories of Ukraine.At least 48 media infrastructure facilities were captured from February, 24, to July, 15, 2022. The largest number of media equipment stayed behind in the occupied Crimea — 58 facilities; a little less (34 sites) remained in Luhansk region. In Donetsk and Kherson oblasts, there are at least 12 TV towers and repeaters under the occupation, in Kharkiv — 8, in Zaporizhia — 7.

The occupation of Ukrainian TV towers and radio stations leads to the fact that, firstly, these facilities stop broadcasting Ukrainian TV channels and radio stations, and, secondly, the occupiers use them to broadcast their own propaganda products.

According to the member of the National Council of Ukraine for Television and Radio Broadcasting,  Maksym Onoprienko, in one of OPORA's live programs, in the occupied territories all the premises and equipment of broadcasters have been either seized and now transmit russian propaganda, or destroyed, or taken away by the occupiers on the territory of the so-called LPR, DPR, or Crimea. Despite the fact that Ukrainian journalists, having learnt their lessons from 2014, managed to evacuate the equipment from some of the occupied regions, many technical facilities remained at the service of the occupiers. As for satellite broadcasting, there are also certain reservations: although all Ukrainian national broadcasters have decoded TV channels and the signal is now available to everyone, it is virtually impossible to find out whether residents of the occupied territories have any access to it.

Likewise, the occupation destroys local broadcasting services. In particular, as of July, 4, 14 regional and 53 local TV companies, as well as 18 regional and 47 local radio companies have stopped broadcasting on TOTs. In general, this is about 15% of all broadcasters in Ukraine. The reason is the actual coercion of news agencies to cooperate with the occupation authorities (kidnapping of local journalists, threats received to emails of local news outlets, etc.). Although this figure is not too high for the entire country, for residents of the occupied territories it means the actual destruction of local media and news resources.

You can trace the establishment of the hegemony of the occupation authorities in the field of broadcasting on the website of the Institute of Mass Media at this link. Please, find below a short timeline of this process:


Although it seems that the Internet environment is so developed and decentralized that it cannot be controlled, the russian federation managed to create at least its illusion of control, if not the actual control, in the territory of its own state and in the recently occupied territories. russia turns off the Ukrainian Internet and connects subscribers in Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, and Luhansk regions to their own Internet environment, extending to Ukrainian citizens all the prohibitions that operate in the territory of the russian federation.

According to the National Television and Radio Council of Ukraine, from February, 24 to mid-July 2020, at least 46 Ukrainian provider companies were forced to cease their activities in the occupied territories. Some Internet providers were forced to connect to russian networks through blackmail, others were seized by the occupation authorities, and the traffic was routed throughrussian providers (mostly through the "Miranda" company, a Crimean subsidiary of the russian Internet provider "Rostelecom").At the same time, as noted in the Kherson RMA, currently, due to traffic re-routing, access to some Ukrainian Internet sources is possible only through VPN services. The same situation is found in the occupied areas of Zaporizhzhya region. At the same time, with the capture of the head of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration,  Oleksandr Starukhrussia does not seek to establish their own public providers in the occupied territories. Instead, they are creating "something hybrid, the ‘gray' operators, which can not be brought under sanctions."Instead, the newly occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts have been "visited" by Internet providers from the so-called LPR and DPR,  who switched to the mainstream channels for transmitting Internet traffic from russia in 2019.

The situation with mobile communication is also cheerless. Operators from the occupied Crimea and TOTs of Donetsk and Luhansk come to the recently occupied territories. The russian authorities are jamming the Ukrainian connection, forcing residents to receive cards of operators from russia or the DPR (for example, this is what happened in the occupied Mariupol — the phoenix operator's phone cards from the DPR are distributed there). In the southern regions, russians announce the beginning of the work of russian operators from Crimea, in particular, "myrtelecom" and "+7telecom" — both are subsidiaries of the russian "Rostelecom" and "K-Telecom".

Why the connection of Ukrainian citizens to the russian Internet is a problem? First, the russian segment of the Internet allows russian intelligence agencies to effectively track the information they need about the Ukrainian guerrilla movement and pro-Ukrainian citizens. This apparently poses a particular danger to civilians who are often unable to leave the temporarily occupied territories. Secondly, the russian federation is trying to isolate their own Internet space, blocking the websites of the world and Ukrainian segments of the Internet.

To date, the russian regulator Roskomnadzor does not provide any transparent or open information about the websites that have been blocked on the territory of the russian federation. At the moment, you can only check whether a certain website is running on the territory of the russian federation, or not, but there is no official list of the blocked resources. Unofficial russian resources that track blocking, report that now the country does not have access to more than 5,300 websites, including:

In the territories of the so-called L/DPR, social networks have been also blocked — in May, they banned access to Instagram, Facebook, and Viber. At the same time, although the DPR and LPR consider themselves "separate states", their Internet traffic since 2019 has likewise passed through the russian federation. Accordingly, both the occupied territories connected to the LPR/DPR Internet and the occupied territories connected to the russian Internet in Crimea have been included in the russian segment of the Internet. Consequently, websites blocked in russia are also likely to be blocked in the newly occupied territories. Because of this, Ukrainian citizens in these regions do not have access to official government reports and Ukrainian news.


The occupiers not only stop broadcasting Ukrainian television and radio in the occupied territories, but also combine it with the planting of russian propaganda through the broadcasting of russian TV and radio content with the help of captured Ukrainian media equipment. Channeling Internet in the occupied territories through russian providers and mobile operators, banning access to Facebook or Instagram and blocking Ukrainian, independent russian, and international news and official resources builds an information blockade in the Internet environment, when it is difficult to get any information from the Ukrainian authorities without using a VPN. Next to the complete lack of communication in certain regions due to constant shelling, all these factors cause disbelief and a feeling of abandonment among citizens who were unable to leave the occupied territories. Bombings and rocket attacks on television towers and radio stations throughout Ukraine, as well as hacker attacks on news and official Ukrainian websites, are also aimed at preventing citizens from receiving Ukrainian reports on developments in the country and intimidating the journalistic community.

All this grossly violates international law, in particular the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for "the freedom to seek, receive and impart any information and ideas". Although the violation of international law by russia is hardly surprising to anyone, such an information blockade requires the intervention of the international community and individual companies as soon as possible. In particular, the block of the Telegram messenger in russia was not a problem when it happened — it was bypassed through a built-in VPN. This upgrade could be useful for other social networks like Meta and most browsers. Instead, the international community should help Ukraine to end the war as soon as possible, and, as the Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly pointed out, this should happen on the battlefield.

Special for: CENSOR.NET